537 U.S. 101 (2003), 01-7574, Sattazahn v. Pennsylvania

Docket Nº:No. 01-7574
Citation:537 U.S. 101, 123 S.Ct. 732, 154 L.Ed.2d 588, 71 U.S.L.W. 4027
Party Name:DAVID ALLEN SATTAZAHN, PETITIONER v. PENNSYLVANIA
Case Date:January 14, 2003
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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537 U.S. 101 (2003)

123 S.Ct. 732, 154 L.Ed.2d 588, 71 U.S.L.W. 4027

DAVID ALLEN SATTAZAHN, PETITIONER

v.

PENNSYLVANIA

No. 01-7574

United States Supreme Court

January 14, 2003

Argued November 4, 2002

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA, EASTERN DISTRICT.

Syllabus

Under Pennsylvania law,(1)the verdict in the penalty phase of capital proceedings must be death if the jury unanimously finds at least one aggravating circumstance and no mitigating circumstance or one or more aggravating circumstances outweighing any mitigating circumstances, but it must be life imprisonment in all other instances; and (2)the court may discharge a jury if it determines that the jury will not unanimously agree on the sentence, but the court must then enter a life sentence. When petitioner’s penalty-phase jury reported to the trial judge that it was hopelessly deadlocked 9-to-3 for life imprisonment, the court discharged the jury and entered a life sentence. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed petitioner’s first-degree murder conviction and remanded for a new trial. At the second trial, Pennsylvania again sought the death penalty and the jury again convicted petitioner, but this time the jury imposed a death sentence. In affirming, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that neither the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause nor the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause barred Pennsylvania from seeking the death penalty at the retrial.

Held:

1.There was no double-jeopardy bar to Pennsylvania’s seeking the death penalty on retrial. Pp.106-110, 113-115.

(a) Where, as here, a defendant who is convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment succeeds in having the conviction set aside on appeal, jeopardy has not terminated, so that a life sentence imposed in connection with the initial conviction raises no double-jeopardy bar to a death sentence on retrial. Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15.While,in the line of cases commencing with Bullington v. Missouri, 451 U.S. 430,this Court has found that the Double Jeopardy Clause applies to capital-sentencing proceedings that "have the hall-marks of the trial on guilt or innocence," id., at 439,the relevant inquiry in that context is not whether the defendant received a life sentence the first time around, but whether a first life sentence was an "acquittal" based on findings sufficient to establish legal entitlement to the life sentence —i.e., findings that the government failed to prove one or more aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, Arizona v. Rumsey, 467 U.S. 203, 211. Pp.106-109.

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(b) Double-jeopardy protections were not triggered when the jury deadlocked at petitioner’s first sentencing proceeding and the court prescribed a life sentence pursuant to Pennsylvania law. The jury in that first proceeding was deadlocked and made no findings with respect to the alleged aggravating circumstance. That result, or nonresult, cannot fairly be called an acquittal, based on findings sufficient to establish legal entitlement to a life sentence. Neither was the entry of a life sentence by the judge an "acquittal. "Under Pennsylvania’s scheme, a judge has no discretion to fashion a sentence once he finds the jury is deadlocked, and he makes no findings and resolves no factual matters. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also made no finding that the Pennsylvania Legislature intended the statutorily required entry of a life sentence to create an "entitlement" even with-out an "acquittal." Pp.109-110.

(c) Dictum in United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82, 92,does not support the proposition that double jeopardy bars retrial when a defendant’s case has been fully tried and the court on its own motion enters a life sentence. The mere prospect of a second capital-sentencing proceeding does not implicate the perils against which the Double Jeopardy Clause seeks to protect. Pp.113-115.

2.The Due Process Clause also did not bar Pennsylvania from seeking the death penalty at the retrial. Nothing in § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment indicates that any "life" or "liberty" interest that Pennsylvania law may have given petitioner in the first proceeding’s life sentence was somehow immutable, and he was "deprived" of any such interest only by operation of the "process " he invoked to invalidate the underlying first-degree murder conviction. This Court declines to hold that the Due Process Clause provides greater double-jeopardy protection than does the Double Jeopardy Clause. Pp.115-116.

563 Pa.533,763 A.2d 359, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, IV, and V, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, and BREYER, JJ., joined.

Robert Brett Dunham argued the pause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Anne L. Saunders and John T. Adams.

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Iva C. Dougherty argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Mark C. Baldwin and Alisa R. Hobart.

Sri Srinivasan argued the cause pro hoc vice for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Olson, Assistant Attorney General Chertoff, Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben, and Robert J. Erickson.

JUSTICE SCALIA announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, IV, and V, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE THOMAS join[*] .

In this case, we consider once again the applicability of the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause in the context of capital-sentencing proceedings.

I

On Sunday evening, April 12, 1987, Petitioner David Allen Sattazahn and his accomplice, Jeffrey Hammer, hid in a wooded area waiting to rob Richard Boyer, manager of the Heidelberg Family Restaurant. Sattazahn carried a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol and Hammer a .41-caliber revolver. They accosted Boyer in the restaurant's parking lot at closing time. With guns drawn, they demanded the bank deposit bag containing the day's receipts. Boyer threw the bag toward the roof of the restaurant. Petitioner commanded Boyer to retrieve the bag, but instead of complying Boyer tried to run away. Both petitioner and Hammer fired shots, and Boyer fell dead. The two men then grabbed the deposit bag and fled.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prosecuted petitioner and sought the death penalty. On May 10, 1991, a jury returned a conviction of first-, second-, and third-degree murder, and various other charges. In accordance with Pennsylvania

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law the proceeding then moved into a penalty phase. See 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1102(a)(1) (1998); 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9711(a)(1) (Supp. 2000). The Commonwealth presented evidence of one statutory aggravating circumstance: commission of the murder while in the perpetration of a felony. See § 9711(d)(6). Petitioner presented as mitigating circumstances his lack of a significant history of prior criminal convictions and his age at the time of the crime. See §§ 9711(e)(1), (4). 563 Pa. 533, 539, 763 A.2d 359, 362 (2000).

Pennsylvania law provides that, in the penalty phase of capital proceedings:

"(iv) the verdict must be a sentence of death if the jury unanimously finds at least one aggravating circumstance . . . and no mitigating circumstance or if the jury unanimously finds one or more aggravating circumstances which outweigh any mitigating circumstances. The verdict must be a sentence of life imprisonment in all other cases.

"(v) the court may, in its discretion, discharge the jury if it is of the opinion that further deliberation will not result in a unanimous agreement as to the sentence, in which case the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment." § 9711(c).

After both sides presented their evidence, the jury deliberated for some 3 1/2 hours, App. 23, after which it returned a note signed by the foreman which read: "We, the jury are hopelessly deadlocked at 9 to 3 for life imprisonment. Each one is deeply entrenched in their [sic] position. We do not expect anyone to change his or her position." Id., at 25. Petitioner then moved "under 9711(c), subparagraph 1, subparagraph Roman Numeral 5, that the jury be discharged and that [the court] enter a sentence of life imprisonment." Id., at 22. The trial judge, in accordance with Pennsylvania

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law, discharged the jury as hung, and indicated that he would enter the required life sentence, id., at 23-24, which he later did, id., at 30-33.

Petitioner appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. That court concluded that the trial judge had erred in instructing the jury in connection with various offenses with which petitioner was charged, including first-degree murder. It accordingly reversed petitioner's first-degree murder conviction and remanded for a new trial. Commonwealth v. Sattazahn, 428 Pa. Super. 413, 631 A.2d 597 (1993).

On remand, Pennsylvania filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. In addition to the aggravating circumstance alleged at the first sentencing hearing, the notice also alleged a second aggravating circumstance, petitioner's significant history of felony convictions involving the use or threat of violence to the person. (This was based on guilty pleas to a murder, multiple burglaries, and a robbery entered after the first trial.) Petitioner moved to prevent Pennsylvania from seeking the death penalty and from adding the second aggravating circumstance on retrial. The trial court denied the motion, the Superior Court affirmed the denial, App. 73, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court...

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